Grand Bohemian hosts National Truffle Fest, Stag’s Leap Vineyards

There’s quite a bit going on at the Grand Bohemian Hotel this month.

First, the National Truffle Fest, a benefit for the Frankie Lemmon School, begins on Thursday, Feb. 23 and continues through Saturday, Feb. 25. The festival is devoted to all things truffle (the expensive, delicious fungal variety) and draws talented regional chefs like Ashley Christensen of Poole’s Downtown Diner, John Fleer, formerly of Blackberry Farm and current chef of Canyon Kitchen in Sapphire, N.C. and Tyler Brown of the Capitol Grille in Nashville, Tenn. Brown was named one of the “Four New Chefs to Watch” by Esquire Magazine in 2011.

“We’ll have some great headliners. It should be fun,” says the Red Stag Grill’s executive chef Adam Hayes. New to the festival this year, he says, is a bigger focus on truffle cultivation, a growing regional cash crop. Truffle experts will host seminars and presentations designed for current and prospective truffle growers. “At least on Friday, a lot of the focus will be on cultivation, harvesting and the business side of the truffle market,” says Hayes. 

The majority of the weekend is given over to tastings, pairings and dinners, all featuring truffles including Black Perigord, Bianchetti, Oregon black and Oregon white. There’s a whiskey cocktail seminar and tasting led by New York City cocktail guru Karin Stanley (who will also team up with chef Hayes for a truffle-and-libation filled brunch), a truffled-risotto event and truffle and wine pairing seminars. The weekend’s festivities culminate with the Chef’s Gala, featuring live music and an incredible spread of truffled dishes (made by chefs from the Red Stag, other Asheville-area talent and some of the guest regional chefs mentioned above) weaving through several rooms in the Grand Bohemian’s ballroom and dining area.

Just how many truffles will be at the festival? “We get a tremendous amount of truffles in here. It’s old-school in here for me, cutting them all up, scaling them out, getting [the] truffles divvied up for all of the restaurants,” Hayes says, referring to the various truffle-spiked dinners that will take place concurrently with the festival throughout town at restaurants including Cucina 24 and Cúrate. “You’re not going to go anywhere else and see this many truffles that I’m aware of in this restaurant community.” How much exactly? “Security is high — I’ll put it to you that way.”

For more information and to buy tickets, visit the event’s website.

On Wednesday, Feb. 29, the Red Stag will host a dinner featuring selected wines from Stag’s Leap, a winery established in Napa Valley, Calif. in 1970.

The evening will feature a very California-style menu that features food Hayes says is a bit of a departure from his regular style. The menu is a little more fanciful, a little more Thomas Keller-esque than his usual fare, he says. “Every course has about 10 descriptor words to it — I’m usually a three-descriptor-word kind of guy. But we’ve really had a lot of fun with it,” he says. “And the wines themselves are unbelievable.”

See for yourself:

Tijuana tuna tartare: Hass avocado sauce, heirloom tomato pico, tortilla tuille, micro-cilantro, popcorn shoots, chipotle morita powder and chili threads (2008 sauvignon blanc).

Seared Hudson Valley duck breast and foie gras: pickled heirloom beets, purple Brussels sprouts leaves, amarena cherries, Lusty Monk mustard and cherry gastrique (2009 Hands of Time red).

Hard cider-braised lamb short rib: cranberry beans, butternut squash, house-smoked tasso ham, rainbow carrot, apple-mint gelée (2007 merlot).

Painted Hills Farm strip loin: sunchoke puree, “truffle fest,” tri-color asparagus bundle, horseradish sprouts, Artemis demi (2009 Artemis cabernet sauvignon).

California “strawberries and cream”: Cyprus Grove fresh chevre panna cotta, 25-year-old Pedro Ximenez sherry vinegar, strawberry powder, chocolate-dipped chocolate mint, almond lace cookie (sparkling wine).

Cost for the dinner is $125 per person plus tax and gratuity. Reservations can be made by calling 398-5600.

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